Turkey must control its own border, U.S. Vice President Biden says

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan (R) meets with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, August 24, 2016. Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Palace/Handout via REUTERS

ANKARA (Reuters) - The United States strongly believes that Turkey’s border must be controlled by Turkey, and there should be no occupation by any other group, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday.

Biden, who was speaking at a joint news conference with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, also said the U.S. military has been providing air cover for Turkey’s operation in northern Syria.

Biden said Syria must be whole and united, and not carved into pieces. Differences on Syria policy have been a difficulty for U.S.-Turkey relations. The United States backs the Syrian Kurdish YPG in the fight against Islamic State in Syria.

Turkey sees that group as an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has carried out a three-decade insurgency in Turkey’s largely Kurdish southeast.

Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by David Dolan; Editing by Patrick Markey